Back in May, the Oro Valley Town Council voted unanimously to send a $17 million bond question to the Nov. 7 ballot. The funds would be used—if approved by Oro Valley voters—to further develop the Naranja Park site by adding multipurpose fields, baseball/softball fields, a playground and several other features.
In response to council’s decision, two political action committees have formed, one on either side of the issue. Tucson Local Media has followed both Axe the Tax and Yes on 454, and recently asked several questions of both groups.
Axe the Tax
Why should residents vote against the bond?
The $17 million bond was unanimously approved by council with limited public discourse. No facts were presented to quantify the need for additional fields and no alternatives were seriously considered. This bond is the first down payment on the Town’s $33 million plan to reinvent Naranja Park at taxpayer expense. It would cost homeowners and commercial property owners $50 million in new property taxes to solve a $2 to $3 million Little League baseball field issue.
The plan dramatically changes the character of Naranja Park from a community park nestled within residential communities, to a sports and event complex. That concept wasn’t vetted within the community and doesn’t consider the adjacent neighborhoods, traffic congestion or the needs of non-team sports park users.
Why should residents vote against the bond?
The Town Council placed this bond and 20 year property tax on the ballot without validating needs for the facilities or exploring other options. They justified it, in part, with 10,000 petition signatures of which only 167 signatures were from Oro Valley residents.
The Town has not provided any facts to support the approval of this “first-ever” property tax. Information was not presented to quantify the number of Oro Valley children that play on these fields or the number of Oro Valley youth who want to play sports but have no place to play.
There is, however, a need for baseball fields as none have been built. The town chose to subsidize golf over building little league ball fields for our children.
What aspect of the bond proposition does your organization oppose, or do you oppose the proposition as a whole?
We oppose the bond as a whole. The estimated cost for the proposed baseball and soccer fields is $5.6 million. To get these fields, taxpayers must pay an additional $11.6 million for unrelated infrastructure. We also don’t support construction of a one mile, two-lane road from Naranja Drive to Tangerine Road due to safety concerns for unattended children and seniors walking their dogs.
The bond has been crafted and placed on the November ballot as a “take it or leave it” deal. We choose to “leave it” and stay with the “pay as you go” plan for further development of the park without a property tax burden.
Should Naranja Park be developed further? If yes, what would you like to see built there? If not, why?
In the 2014 Parks survey, residents identified playgrounds as the most desired amenity. Yet, only one is provided in this bond. The plan needs to be re-worked to provide facilities for children that don’t participate in team sports.
We support the immediate start of construction of Little League baseball fields. We also support additional soccer fields for town youth as needed.
We would reinstate the skate and bike park that was removed when the town donated that area for a memorial. We’d add four outdoor basketball courts to the plan. We would eliminate the event center, relocate the baseball fields further away from Tangerine Terrace homes and reinstate the desert walking trails that were replaced by the mobile archery ranges.
If you approve of further expansion at the park, how should it be funded? If not, what priorities should the town pursue instead?
We recommend that the Town immediately use the $2 million surplus from the fiscal year 2016-17 budget to fund three little baseball fields. We’d get rid of the championship soccer field and event center that drive up the cost for this bond. Those facilities are currently hidden from view on the Naranja Park Plan. We can eliminate two thirds of the $33 million total built out cost by removing facilities that don’t fit in our community park.
We’d also establish a Park Capital Plan, with minimum annual funding of $1 million from the town, to provide the community’s most desired elements on a “pay as you go” basis. This will complete the build-out of Naranja Park within five to six years without a property tax.
Yes on 454
Why should residents vote for the bond?
The bond is good for our kids, for our community and for our property values.
Is there a need for additional sports fields within the Town of Oro Valley? Explain your answer.
There are currently too few fields for too many people. Whether it’s youth football, adult softball or any of a dozen other sports, we simply don’t have the space.
Many of our teams have to routinely travel hours for games and many Oro Valley
teams hold practices and home games outside of Oro Valley. Our Oro Valley Little League baseball teams with 300-plus kids play and practice in Catalina under very poor playing conditions.
These conditions are so bad I would say that 50 years ago the playing conditions I played on were superior to what our kids play on in 2017.
But this isn’t just about our athletes. Making the improvements to Naranja Park will not only relieve the pressure on our current fields. Over-all, it will also be good for the town as a whole. Sports tourism is now a $10 billion industry. Year-round travel leagues have grown in popularity and these families have money to spend. Building the fields now at Naranja will attract national tournaments and will bring tourist dollars to our town. In addition, the bond provides a playground, ramadas, parking lots and much-needed bathrooms for Naranja Park. We should not have to wait 15 to 20 years to build fields for our kids under the pay as you go plan. Another generation of Oro Valley kids will not have adequate fields to practice and play ball on if these fields are not built now!
Why does your organization support the bond?
Our organization supports the bond because it will increase the quality of life for everyone in Oro Valley. We believe $4.50 a month is a small price to pay to make our community better.
Should residents who do not use the facilities pay for them via a tax levy?
Everyone will benefit from the bond. Attracting sports tourism and increasing property values are good for the community, regardless of who you are or how often you visit the park.
How would additional fields affect the Town of Oro Valley as a whole?
Additional fields will relieve the burden on existing fields, will provide a home for many of our teams, and will attract tournaments to our town.
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